Three B.C. doctors who oppose COVID-19 health-related measures made a stop in the Okanagan this week to drum up support for their anti-vaccination views.
The campaign-style event that pushed views that are not supported by scientific consensus was later posted on YouTube and Facebook and showed the doctors, two of whom are no longer practicing, specifically focusing on children, who became eligible for a COVID-19 shot at the end of last month.
Dr. Stephen Malthouse of Denman Island was one of the most well-known speakers and he’s often shared his beliefs through videos, at rallies, and through open letters.
He gained attention in October when he penned an open letter to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, falsely stating that COVID-19 is no more deadly than the flu and that people are “rarely” becoming sick from it. He’s shifted his focus, though his point of view appears to be the same.
“These kids are our kids, right? And we are hitting the road because they’re going after them,” Malthouse said outside the Embassy Church in Kelowna.
“They’re after your five to 11-year-olds now. It was bad enough when they went after the adolescents, you know. In fact, that’s a very vulnerable group. For the five to 11-year-olds, the parents still have control.
“So we’re actually sending all of you out, I guess, as emissaries to pass the word to be informed, and to find the way to align yourself with your neighbours, and to speak with them and to help them to protect their kids.”
Sticking with that theme, a former Kamloops anesthesiologist, Dr. Rachel Maurice, also spoke about her concerns with the vaccines.
Maurice told the crowd that her children, ages 14 and 16, got the shot against her will because they wanted to be able to participate in activities with their peers.
“And, you know, I got I woke up one morning, and I thought, I’ve got it. I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to bribe my daughter. And so I believe it or not, I said, ‘You know, there’s no way you’re going to say no to this … I’m gonna offer you $5,000 to not take the shot.”
Maurice said her children are fine post-shot though she wasn’t.
“I spent a week in bed thinking I need to be honest, thinking I killed my kids. I allowed them to to get this,” she said.
Also there, was Dr. Charles Hoffe, a former Lytton, B.C., emergency room doctor.
Hoffe said he was fired two months before the emergency room burned down.
According to a September press release issued by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom, he is under investigation by the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons for promoting vaccine hesitancy.
“All medical health authorities are vaccine-injury deniers. And they are not interested in health, they are just interested in getting a shot into every — not just one shot many, many shots into our all of our children. And all of us know (they’re) coming for our children,” he told the crowd.
Child vaccinations for COVID-19 had long been in the works and before a vaccination becomes publicly available, Health Canada reviews safety data on how well the vaccine works in children that age and the manufacturing data.
At a news conference last month, Henry said “this rigorous and independent review really can give us confidence that, as it’s approved by Health Canada, it is safe for use, and we can trust that in our children.”
At that time, Henry also said that while children don’t often have severe impacts from the disease, it’s still important to get for reasons including allowing children and their families to get over some of the more severe pandemic disruptions, especially as the fourth wave paired with the Delta variant continue.
Although B.C. has recorded few cases of hospitalization among children, kids in this age group now make up 20 per cent of current cases.
The vaccine also reduces the risk of transmission to children’s close contacts, particularly people who are older or who are at risk of more severe illness.
Up until Dec. 13, the BC Centre for Disease Control map shows COVID-19 vaccine uptake for B.C. children between the ages of five and 11 years old is on the rise.
Regionally, up until Dec. 9, the Okanagan saw vaccination rates for that age group range from two to 14 per cent. In four days, that range went to seven to 26 per cent.
Every neighbourhood had a different uptake to the vaccine being made available. Kelowna’s Mission neighbourhood, for example, has a 26-per cent vaccination rate for children ages five to 11, while Glenmore is at 20 per cent.
Around 14 per cent of young children in downtown Kelowna have received their first vaccine, and the area described as rural Central Okanagan, which includes areas such as Joe Rich and Peachland, is at 11 per cent.
Lake Country has 13 per cent of children vaccinated with one shot.
In the North Okanagan, Vernon Centre is reporting 12 per cent of kids five to 11 have had a shot, while Armstrong has 10 per cent and Enderby has seven per cent.
To the south, 19 per cent of children in that age group have had their first shot, while 14 per cent of Summerland kids have had theirs.
The pediatric Pfizer dose that children ages five to 11 are receiving is one-third of an adult dose, and Health Canada approved it on Nov. 19.
B.C. was the last province to start administering it because of distribution challenges linked to the recent flooding and distances to various areas.
According to the provincial government, there are 349,000 B.C. children who are eligible for the vaccine.